Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,890 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.

“Whenever you like.  I can begin now.”

He was always eager in any new undertaking.

“Very good,” he said.  “The sooner, then, the better.  Let’s begin while we are in the humor.  The longer you postpone a thing of this kind the less likely you are ever to get at it.”

This was on Saturday, as I have stated.  I mentioned that my family was still in the country, and that it would require a day or two to get established in the city.  I asked if Tuesday, January 9th, would be too soon to begin.  He agreed that Tuesday would do, and inquired something about my plan of work.  Of course I had formed nothing definite, but I said that in similar undertakings a part of the work had been done with a stenographer, who had made the notes while I prompted the subject to recall a procession of incidents and episodes, to be supplemented with every variety of material obtainable—­letters and other documentary accumulations.  Then he said: 

“I think I should enjoy dictating to a stenographer, with some one to prompt me and to act as audience.  The room adjoining this was fitted up for my study.  My manuscripts and notes and private books and many of my letters are there, and there are a trunkful or two of such things in the attic.  I seldom use the room myself.  I do my writing and reading in bed.  I will turn that room over to you for this work.  Whatever you need will be brought to you.  We can have the dictation here in the morning, and you can put in the rest of the day to suit yourself.  You can have a key and come and go as you please.”

That was always his way.  He did nothing by halves; nothing without unquestioning confidence and prodigality.  He got up and showed me the lovely luxury of the study, with its treasures of material.  I did not believe it true yet.  It had all the atmosphere of a dream, and I have no distinct recollection of how I came away.  When I returned to The Players and found Charles Harvey Genung there, and told him about it, it is quite certain that he perjured himself when he professed to believe it true and pretended that he was not surprised.



On Tuesday, January 9, 1906, I was on hand with a capable stenographer —­Miss Josephine Hobby, who had successively, and successfully, held secretarial positions with Charles Dudley Warner and Mrs. Mary Mapes Dodge, and was therefore peculiarly qualified for the work in hand.

Clemens, meantime, had been revolving our plans and adding some features of his own.  He proposed to double the value and interest of our employment by letting his dictations continue the form of those earlier autobiographical chapters, begun with Redpath in 1885, and continued later in Vienna and at the Villa Quarto.  He said he did not think he could follow a definite chronological program; that he would like to wander about, picking up this point and that,

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Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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